How big data, AI and automation are transforming patient access

The healthcare industry celebrates Patient Access week once a year in April, recognizing hardworking staff and significant advancements in this area of the field. While we all love a celebration, especially one that shines a light on such a deserving field, it’s critical that this focus on patient access does not dwindle in the other 51 weeks. with that in mind, we’re sharing three major ways you can keep improving patient access all year with health analytics technology, one of the top health IT investments right now.

A 2019 study that explored the role of big data in healthcare described its potential to “detect patterns and to turn high volumes of data into actionable knowledge…for decision makers.” In the past, this process was immensely draining on time, budget and resources. As technology has evolved, however, consuming and analyzing massive data from diverse sources has grown considerably easier and more efficient.

Big data has the power to equip clinicians and staff with precise patient insights and broader population trends—both of which are critical to improving access to quality care. More hospitals and health systems are pursuing advanced data analytics capabilities than ever before, allowing them to:

  • Identify the most at-risk patients and get their visits scheduled quickly
  • Offer options for communication and care that fit the community’s needs and abilities
  • Save patients time and money by guiding them to the appropriate site of care

#2: Enact AI to improve patient experience

Over the past five years, healthcare organizations have become more amenable to incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into operations. Though many factors spurred this rise in adoption, CMS’s price transparency rule (finalized in August 2018) and shifts in health insurance trends have certainly been catalysts. AI-enabled technologies and tools have stepped up to the plate, applying automated communications to improve education and transparency, as well as using predictive algorithms to determine a patient’s propensity to pay. These advancements have paved the way for:

  • Improvements in consumer satisfaction ratings
  • Clearer access paths to care
  • Cultivation of patient loyalty and trust
  • Cost reductions across the spectrum of services

#3: Smooth out pre-registration and post-visit processes with automation

Analytics-backed automation capabilities are playing a central role in transforming patient access directly around the care encounter. Pre-visit patient registration tasks are typically time-consuming and prone to errors. Automated insight into insurance eligibility, benefit information, charity care screening, balances and more helps:

  • Eliminate human processing mistakes
  • Streamline preauthorization
  • Reduce avoidable denials
  • Accelerate collections

Automation also removes burden from front-end teams by keeping appointment reminders, action prompts, and information confirmation campaigns running steadily behind the scenes. Automation is often deployed in text, email, call, or push notification formats and also plays a key role in post-visit communications, ensuring that patients are fully aware of their financial responsibilities and follow-up care needs. Along with easing burden on front office staff, automation can dramatically impact patient experience by establishing continuity, consistency and clear communication.

One final note

Staff in hospitals nationwide have expressed concern over the growth of health technology and innovation. Will we be replaced? Are our roles becoming redundant? My answers to those questions are resounding NOs. What I’ve seen happening instead is actually great news. Robotics, machine learning, natural language processing, and all the other tools we’ve touched on in this post are created to serve us—not surpass us. By executing mundane, repetitive and templated tasks, analytics technology frees staff to focus on advancing more complex skills and deploying meaningful engagements. Best of all, it is a win, win, win. Patients, the staff and bottom line all benefit when data is used to make a difference in access to quality care.

Jennifer Rydd

Jennifer is a revenue cycle expert with a background in electronic medical record implementations, sales support and management of revenue cycle operations. Jennifer combines career expertise in revenue cycle, health information management, patient registration and EMR documentation with strong professional skills in workflow and operational analysis to offer incredible leadership and consistent support to our clients.

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